iMac (older) to iMac (new) transfer
May 11, 2015 7:39 PM   Subscribe

Best way to wire a 2009 (w/ OS X Yosemite 10.10.3) iMac to a brand stinkin' new iMac for file transfer/migration?

WiFi is slow and the old iMac has a Firewire, new one has Thunderbolt. I think I need the Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter. What do you think?
posted by jeffmac to Technology (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter will definitely be the easiest, highest speed option.
posted by rockindata at 7:43 PM on May 11, 2015

+1 Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter.
Or connect both units with a good Ethernet cable.

Rather than running migration assistant on the old iMac I prefer to run it in Target disk mode.
Just hold down the t key while starting the old iMac and it will become available like an external drive to the new Mac that is running Migration assistant. (only when you use Firewire...)
posted by Mac-Expert at 7:47 PM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

another option would be to get the two machines on the same wired ethernet. can you temporarily plug both machines into your router? it's also possible to connect two machines with a single ethernet cable.
posted by bruceo at 7:49 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ethernet will be a bit faster than Firewire. (Firewire is 800Mb and those both have Gigabit Ethernet)

The fastest but most difficult way to do it would be to pull the drive from the old machine and plug it into a USB 3 drive enclosure for 3 Gbit transfers, or a Thunderbolt enclosure for 10 Gbit transfers. Of course, that assumes the drive in question is fast enough to saturate either of those interfaces.

The last time I used migration assistant it was to migrate a 500GB SSD to a 1TB SSD. I used an external Thunderbolt enclosure, and the whole thing was done in about 15 minutes.
posted by tomierna at 8:10 PM on May 11, 2015

Just connect an Ethernet cable directly between the two computers and use Migration Assistant. It's smart enough to figure out what to do. It's even smart enough to switch to using Ethernet if you start a migration with WiFi and later connect an Ethernet cable.
posted by zsazsa at 9:24 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

For what it’s worth, i’ve had the ethernet method fail twice in the last year. The first time it was attributable to what turned out to be a known problem going from a very old version of OS X to a new iMac. We ended up buying the firewire adapter and it worked flawlessly.

More recently i migrated another user from a not-so-ancient Mac Pro to a new iMac. Ethernet should have worked given the OS X versions involved. But, twice we tried it — after hours of chugging along it would hang near the end. A web search found other people having the same problem (particularly hanging at the same point), but no resolution. Ended up transferring using a Time Machine backup drive.
posted by D.C. at 9:29 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

surprised no one has suggested it yet but...

1. external hard drive of suitable size

2. time machine, make backup on old mac.

3. select restore from time machine backup in the setup on the new mac.

Everything else i've ever tried takes easily 3 times as long, if not more. The wifi thing is notably so goddamn slow that you could leave town for a weekend and come back and it wouldn't be done. That will take maybe... under two hours? And that was with half a tb of crap.
posted by emptythought at 9:54 PM on May 11, 2015

Nah Time Machine is the one that I have had the most trouble with.
If you want to go trough an external drive option create a clone using Super Duper / or Carbon Copy Cloner. Its a good way to have a 2nd back-up any way...
Definitely no on WiFi.
posted by Mac-Expert at 10:13 PM on May 11, 2015

If you're comfortable enough with working on hardware you could also remove the drive from the old computer and then use a SATA to USB3 adapter to connect it to the new computer where it will just show up as an external drive.

Copy what you need and then put it back in the old computer.
posted by Gev at 5:10 AM on May 12, 2015

Response by poster: Good stuff. Thank you! You can pull a drive from an enclosed iMac? This is probably above my skill level.
posted by jeffmac at 6:59 AM on May 12, 2015

You can. You'll find good instruction at
posted by humboldt32 at 11:14 AM on May 12, 2015

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